The shortlist for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2020 has been announced today, April 21, 2020.
The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction in English in the regions of Africa, Asia, Canada, and Europe, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. Each of these winners is then eligible for the global prize. Previous winners in the Africa region have been Jekwu Anyaegbuna (2012), Julian Jackson (2013), Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (2014), Lesley Nneka Arimah (2015), Faraaz Mahomed (2016), Akwaeke Emezi (2017), Efua Traoré (2018), and Mbozi Haimbe (2019). Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi won the global prize in 2014.
Selecting the winners for 2020 is a panel chaired by novelist, poet, and publisher Nii Ayikwei Parkes. The others are Mohale Mashigo (Africa), William Phuan (Asia), Heather O’Neill (Canada and Europe), Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw (the Caribbean) and Nic Low (the Pacific). This panel has pronounced the shortlist for the 2020 award today.
Chair of the Judges Nii Ayikwei Parkes said of the shortlist, ‘Beyond their basic plots, the best stories are elevated by the language in which they are told. In this judging process, the fine language has also undoubtedly been that of my fellow judges, who add nuance, colour, fun and a profound knowledge of trends in their regions to discussions. The result of the time we’ve spent indulging in the submissions to the Commonwealth Short Story Prize is a shortlist of 20 unique stories. These stories, drawn from all over the globe, are as harrowing as they are uplifting, funny while being tragic—and defiant in the face of politics, bigotry, and injustice. But, crucially, at a time like this, with the world beset with myriad challenges and a devastating virus, the stories are grounded in faith, hope and the humanity we all share.’
Those in the running in the African region are;
- The Dawning by Aba Asibon (Ghana).
- When a Woman Renounces Motherhood by Innocent Chizaram Ilo (Nigeria).
- Rites Evasion Manuever by Caleb Ozovehe Ajinomoh (Nigeria).
- The Faraway Things by Alboricah Rathupetsane (South Africa).
- Fatou vs. the Dictator by ML Kejera (The Gambia)
The 2020 shortlisted stories will be published on adda, the Commonwealth Writers online magazine which features new writing from around the globe. The judges will go on to choose a winner for each of the five regions. These regional winners who receive £2,500 each will be announced on Tuesday, June 2, before being published online by the literary magazine Granta. The overall winner receives a cash prize of £5,000 will be announced on Tuesday, July 7.